In the past three weeks, we’ve featured two scholarly essays by Dr. Noel Weeks, as well as a video lecture in which he highlights the arguments of his essay from 2016.
If you have more time, and if you caught on to Dr. Weeks’s very endearing lecture style from the last video, you will no doubt find very helpful this online lecture by Dr. Weeks, given at the Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Tampa, Florida. He spoke on the topic, “If Evolution is True, What are You?”
Weeks opens with a cute story—and did I mention that he also has a charming style of lecturing : )—about a zoologist improving the lives of zoo animals. Gibbons at the Santiago Zoo had to learn to press levers to get their food. After learning this, the gibbons were given the choice to have their food for nothing or by working for it. Surprisingly, they chose the latter, and the zoologist suggested that the gibbons were “enjoying” themselves. But, says Weeks, she “caught herself,” for she realized that she was looking at animals from our perspective, which is no longer permitted in the animal sciences. Instead, we ought to think of ourselves in terms of animals. He asks: Which way should we look at ourselves? Who are we? If evolution is true, who are we?
As Christians we must think from the top down, from God to us. Evolutionists think from the bottom up, from atoms to life to animals to humans to, perhaps, the gods.
The lecture then seeks to explain how we in the West came to these two ways of thinking. Whereas the top down account is from Christianity, its the bottom up account that needs to be explained.
Explaining the Bottom Up View
Weeks begins with the Enlightenment and its scientific discoveries and the idea of a regular world ordered by laws. Next he mentions the European Wars of Religion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Seeking to get away from this, European thinkers moved towards Deism in their thinking. By this they could get rid of fanaticism. They also reflected on the regularity of the universe, its laws. God drifts further and further back, creating just the simplest atoms which slowly arrange themselves. The more God is considered to be distant, the more the system drifts to atheism.
Coming to the late eighteenth century Weeks introduces the Scottish economist Adam Smith and his views of economics, competition, and efficiency. A law of competition came to be seen as something good. Greed is okay because everyone benefits.
Here, like a good detective, he drops a clue. You’ll have to listen (21:40).
At around the 20 minute mark Dr. Weeks explains in very clear and helpful terms the development of racial theory in the 19th century. People sought to approach the problem from a “rational” and “scientific” mindset, and combined Adam Smith’s theory of competition with this. Decimation of natives was considered to be a “law of nature.” One race is simply “pushed out of business.” Weeks thinks this is appalling. What happens when some powerful culture considers a certain race to be “inherently evil”? The “Final Solution,” presented as scientific and rational. It makes us shudder to think of it.
At around the 25 minute mark he shifts from questions of race to questions of social class, alluding to how Marx and Engels depended upon evolutionary theory. They argued that history shows an unstoppable progress of one class overcoming and destroying another. This, they said, is normal and good. It must not be stopped, and if you try to stop you must be destroyed.
Getting back to whether religion causes all the violence in the world, he asks, “Is the cause religious? Is that what we have to deal with, or is there another cause? If non-religious theories, racial theory, Nazism, Communism, can lead to people being murdered in the millions, is the problem religion or is it something else?” (around 27:30).
Weeks teaches us how Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin took the theory of competition and applied it to the development of animal and human species. This is where the earlier clue comes back (34:30). Again, you’ll have to listen.
The Bottom Up View Forgotten
Weeks points out a fundamental problem connected to his opening story: “According to evolutionists] we’re not supposed to think of animals in human terms. [But ] isn’t that how we think of them in the theory of evolution? Some are more successful, some are more entrepreneurial than others” (around 35:30).
Using the example of photocopiers not handling paper clips very well, Weeks introduces “the problem of intelligent design,” which is that chance does not work well in an extremely ordered, complex system. It doesn’t make sense. One cannot maintain the well-ordered system of the universe by introducing chance changes.
In order to explain the lack of evidence for these “chance moments” by which change was introduced, Stephen Gould argues that evolution involves long stable periods without change and then moments of “terror” when change occurs so suddenly that no evidence for the change remains. A handy explanation for a theory lacking evidence!
Why did evolution have to resort to such explanations? Fundamentally, because Adam Smith’s theories about human entrepreneurial ways were applied to animals, whereas in fact animals are not human and do not have such innovative and entrepreneurial ways (around 41:00).
If evolutionists would embrace the consequences of their theories, and view our ethics coming up from animals, we would have a world like Nietzche’s, Marx’s, and Hitler’s.
The Top Down View Restored
Weeks then properly surprises us by stating that the problem of people killing each other is not a problem of world religions or of biological theories. Ultimately it is a human problem. We are all inclined to sin. We can only understand the problems in our world if we accept the truth that we are the children of God and we rebelled against him. That’s the problem that we need to grapple with.
The speech ends here, at the 45 minute mark. Following this was about 30 minutes of discussion, also recorded.
And, by the way, we are open to donations to fly Dr. Weeks over here to North America to deliver for more of his high quality speeches, given in his very endearing style.